In the world of pests, some are more feared and hazardous than others. Ticks are one of these due to their need to feed on the blood of people and animals and their ability to carry diseases. For people who live in areas where ticks are common, it’s very important to understand how they can get rid of them and prevent them.
Luckily, there are quite a few things you can do to prevent ticks from getting in your yard and get rid of them if they end up there. Taking extra precautions and preparing yourself and your yard when tick season rolls around can help you feel better about walking around your home.
In this article, you’ll learn:
- How To Get Rid of Ticks in Your Yard
- How To Keep Ticks Away
- How To Identify Ticks
- If Ticks Are Dangerous
- Signs of a Tick Infestation
- Causes of a Tick Infestation
Ed has been working in the pest control industry for years helping 1,000's of homeowners navigate the world of insect and rodent management. He manages Pest Strategies now helping homeowners around the world!
Table Of Contents
How To Get Rid of Ticks in Your Yard
While ticks are common out in the wild, they’re also very prominent in peoples’ backyards, which is one reason they’re so reviled. Once they infest your yard, you and your pets are much more likely to get bitten and have to deal with removing them. If you have spotted several ticks in your yard, there are ways you can get rid of them and make sure they don’t come back.
1. Mow the Lawn Regularly
Ticks have very specific habitats, making them fairly easy to get rid of if you’re noticing many of them. One of the places they are most likely to be is in tall grass. If your yard is regularly overgrown, you’re going to be much more susceptible to a tick infestation. Regularly mowing your lawn and keeping your grass short with a power mower will help keep the tick population down and kill ticks that happen to be living in the grass. Always wear long sleeves and pants when doing this to prevent any tick bites.
2. Clear Yard Debris
Ticks also tend to live in piles of yard debris and leaf litter that is allowed to remain on your property for long periods. If you regularly have piles of leaves or twigs in your yard, make sure you start a regimen of cleaning them up. Ticks will make their homes in moist areas like these piles and will grab onto your legs or your pets as they walk past. Clearing out these piles while wearing gloves and long sleeves is a great way to get rid of any ticks that might be living in them.
3. Use Tick Tubes
Tick tubes are designed to kill the ticks that live on rats and mice and can be very effective if dealing with an infestation of these particular pests. Tick tubes are cardboard tubes that have treated cotton balls in the bottom that are treated with permethrin. Mice will take this cotton back to their nests, and it will kill any ticks that are living on them.
4. Spray IGR and Insecticides
If you have a serious tick problem in your backyard, it might be best to resort to spraying pesticides. You can get permethrin in a spray form and apply it to areas around your home where ticks like to live, like in bushes or around your woodpile. However, it’s important to keep your pets and other wildlife in mind when applying tick spray or pesticide. You should also use an insect growth regulator (IGR) to interrupt the tick life cycle and make sure any eggs aren’t allowed to hatch after you’ve sprayed the tick repellent.
5. Remove Woodpiles
If you have woodpiles in your yard, removing them is one of the best ways to control ticks. Woodpiles tend to be very dark and damp. Because of this, they’re a perfect habitat for critters like ticks, and they’ll latch onto anything that happens to walk by. Move your woodpiles inside or into your garage, where they can stay dry to keep ticks from making their home. On top of removing ticks, this will also keep your wood in better condition for much longer.
How to Keep Ticks Away
Once you have removed a tick infestation from your yard, it’s incredibly important that you also make moves to keep them from coming back. It won’t do you much good to do all the work to get rid of ticks if they’re just going to re-infest your yard once the season comes around again. Taking steps to prevent ticks is just as important as killing them in the first place.
1. Repel Deer
Deer are one of the main carriers of ticks, and if you live in an area with a lot of deer, you can be certain that deer ticks will follow them. Keep any plants away from your home to make sure that deer don’t get into your yard and leave the parasites attached to them. Many different plants deter deer. You can also use commercial deer repellents to make sure they stay away.
2. Lay Down Mulch
A mulch barrier around your entire yard can be a great way to keep ticks from getting into your grass or bushes. If you’re going to use mulch, make sure that it’s dry wood chips and not moist, shredded wood. You can also use gravel to make sure that no ticks will be able to make their home in the mulch.
3. Check Tick Hiding Places
Always check any areas that could be potential hiding places for ticks around your yard or home. Woodpiles, tall grass, and overgrown vegetation are prime areas for different types of ticks, and if you check them regularly, you can know whether or not you’re dealing with an infestation. Any time you go looking for ticks, make sure you do a tick check on your arms and legs before going back into the house.
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How To Identify Ticks
One of the frustrating things about ticks is that there are many different kinds and their bites require different amounts of care and different types of treatment. If you aren’t sure what kind of tick you’re dealing with, you might not know what you’re supposed to do if you find one latched onto your arm or leg. Knowing what different ticks look like can help you determine your best course of action should you get bitten.
Deer ticks are one of the most common types and will be found on deer in wooded areas. They are the smallest type of tick and will usually be no bigger than a sunflower or sesame seed. They have a very distinct red color on their body and a black dorsal shield, which covers the top half of the body and extends out to their head. Their mouthparts are very long and thin, and they have eight legs.
Western Blacklegged Tick
Western blacklegged ticks look very similar to deer ticks. However, they can be quite a bit larger when they have had a blood meal. If a tick has been allowed to stay on a human or animal, it will become engorged because it has been able to store more blood. In general, Western blacklegged ticks will only be found on the West Coast of the United States.
Lone Star Tick
Lone star ticks are much larger than Western blacklegged ticks or deer ticks, and they also have a much rounder body than the other types and will have less of an oval shape. Lone star ticks are usually reddish-brown unless they have recently had a blood meal. Then, they will be redder in color. They have a characteristic white dot on the female’s body right where the dorsal shield is. This dot is where they get their name from and will be very easy to spot if you happen to have one that latches onto you or one of your animals.
Brown Dog Tick
Brown dog ticks have much longer, thinner bodies than the other types do. They will also be reddish-brown, and they have hexagonal mouthparts that are very easy to identify. One of their most defining characteristics is the fact that their dorsal shields are the same color as the rest of their body. It will mostly look like they are all the same color because of this. They’re most likely to be found on dogs, but they can also latch onto humans.
American Dog Tick
By far, the largest tick in the United States is the American dog tick. American dog ticks are brown and have pointed mouthparts. Their dorsal shields have complex patterns and will stand out from the rest of their body. They usually have very ornate white markings and will look different than other ticks you might come across. They’re likely to be found in the Rocky Mountains and certain parts of the West Coast. Like brown dog ticks, they’ll be most attracted to dogs, but you might see them attaching to humans as well.
Are Ticks Dangerous?
One of the reasons that ticks are so feared is that they can be dangerous to both humans and animals. In the United States, ticks can carry Lyme disease, which can cause neurological problems and other health issues. It’s a very serious disease caused by a pathogen bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
For the most part, deer ticks and blacklegged ticks will be the ones that carry the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. This is why it’s so important that you keep deer out of your yard as much as possible and check your home for ticks if you live in an area where deer are common.
Signs of a Tick Infestation
Visual – The most common way to know that you have a potential tick infestation is to see them visually. Other than that, there aren’t many tell-tale signs that they have made their home on or near your property. Most people won’t know that they have a tick problem until they find one on their pets or themselves. This is why it’s so important that you do regular tick checks when you finish up in your yard.
Causes of a Tick Infestation
Habitat – If your backyard has some ideal conditions for ticks, this could be a major cause of an infestation. Ticks will look for places where they can hide and where there’s a good chance they can get a meal. If your backyard or the surrounding area has a lot of damp, dark places, ticks will find their way there and make their home.
Animals – If you have a lot of rodents or deer around your home, this will almost certainly cause a tick infestation. It’s incredibly important that you do everything you can to keep these larger animals out of your yard, especially if you live in wooded areas where ticks are common. If you have pets, make sure to check them regularly and wash their bedding at least once a week.
Unfortunately, ticks are a very common pest in the United States, and the fact that they can carry diseases makes them especially dangerous. Taking the time to understand where ticks come from and where they live can help you prepare your home and keep them away. Knowing which ticks you might be dealing with can also help you prevent them.
If you’re dealing with a serious tick issue, a pest control specialist can help. They will know what to look for and where to find any epicenters of tick activity. They can also help you develop a plan for preventing ticks in the future so you can feel comfortable in your backyard.